Washington Redskins linebacker Preston Smith picked up a strip sack and fumble recovery on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill in his first regular season game.
Never in all his years playing football had Redskins rookie linebacker Preston Smith experienced a play quite like the one he did on Sunday.
Yes, Smith has recorded strip sacks before -- it's one of the reasons the Redskins used a second-round pick on him this year -- but what started as a sack that looked like a turnover for defense right around the line of scrimmage quickly turned into a game of hot potato at FedExField.
Smith would eventually be the one to stop the pigskin from slipping back into the Dolphins hands.
"That's a first for me where no one falls on the ball the first time it comes out and it pops down field about 30 times," Smith told Redskins.com after the game. "It's kind of crazy to see the ball kept going and as I was going to the pile and it kept going and I see it popping out of guys hands and guys trying to rally to the ball. It felt good to fall on it."
Smith used a stunt move on 3rd-and-4 to create space between Dolphins left guard Dallas Thomas and left tackle Branden Albert.
From there, he noticed that Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill wasn't securing the ball the way he should have been,
"I saw a potential sack, and then I saw had a chance an opportunity where he was holding the ball kind of loosely and I hit the ball out," Smith said. "And I saw teammates rally to it and it just kept bouncing around. I ran to the ball and finally got a chance to fall on it but it was a great feeling knowing that we could get our offense back the ball and put them in great field position."
Smith would secure the ball then got up and signaled a first down.
It was a confidence booster for a guy that was already feeling good about himself before his very first regular season game.
"It helps build more confidence to let me know that if I just go out there and play like I need to play, good things will happen for me and I can help the defense in a great way," Smith said. "I'm gonna go in watch film this week see the little mistakes I need to fix and fix them this week in practice and make sure I have better plays next week."
The defense for most of the day appeared to have the advantage over the Dolphins' offense, as they surrendered just 74 rushing yards on 18 carries. They also gave up just one touchdown while sacking Tannehill three times.
Still, there's room for improvement across the board.
"Correcting our mistakes," Smith said of what the defense will be working on this week. "Correct detail to the little things that caused many mistakes out there. Going out there and playing better and correcting the mistakes from this game throughout the week and make sure we don't make them next week during the St. Louis game."